Twitter humans better than bots

By Benjamin Haslem

The United States-based National Public Radio (NPR) has conducted an interesting experiment comparing how often its Twitter posts are re-tweeted when a human clicks the Tweet button compared to when its feed is automated.

On 22 May, World Goth Day (yes, apparently they have one) NPR's intern, Lauren Katz, tweeted a 2013 story on Goth Barbie to the broadcaster's two million-plus followers.


The Tweet was retweeted 156 times, among the highest of any tweets from NPR that day.

The automated (or bot) Twitter feed would not have tweeted the story because it was from 2013.

But Katz decided to Tweet it because it was the goths' big day. She used human intuition that would be hard to replicate using a bot.

The five-day non-bot experiment yielded some interesting results.

Using Google Analytics data, NPR found there were 142,219 visits to its website from @nprnews tweets — a 45 per cent increase from the average (98,213) of the five weeks leading up to the experiment.

As Joseph Lichterman at Nieman Journalism Lab reports NPR's account revealed "links tweeted by @nprnews were clicked on nearly 100,000 more times than links shared automatically the week before.

"And the account gained 5,010 followers — about 14 percent more than the week before."